Discovering the Cinque Terre wine

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In recent decades, La Spezia wines (Cinque Terre, Colline di Levanto and Colli di Luni) have grown with many new productions and labels, testifying to the value of the recovery work done.

In this story:

Annual events in the La Spezia area, such as Liguria da Bere, Sarzana DOC, and Benvenuto Vermentino, allow getting to know many local producers and taste the excellent Cinque Terre wine.

Ready with our empty glasses to fill with the most varied libations? Let’s review the area’s distribution of vines and the characteristics of its DOC and IGT productions.

Today, the viticultural surfaces of the province of La Spezia have become a considerable part of the total area used for the production of wine in Liguria, concurrently with the creation of the three Denominations of Controlled Origin Colli di Luni, Colline di Levanto and Cinque Terre and, in 2001, of the Typical Geographical Indication of the Gulf of Poets, Igt Liguria di Levante since 2011.

Today’s La Spezia wine denominations:

Cinque Terre e Cinque Terre Sciacchetrà DOC Cinque Terre e Cinque Terre Sciacchetrà DOC Sottozona Costa da Posa Cinque Terre e Cinque Terre Sciacchetrà DOC Sottozona Costa de Campu Cinque Terre e Cinque Terre Sciacchetrà DOC Sottozona Costa de Sera Colli di Luni DOC La Spezia, Massa-Carrara Colline di Levanto DOC Liguria di Levante IGT

The IGT denomination allows greater freedom in interpreting the territory for the construction of the wine compared to the DOC. Today there are several wineries and cooperatives of local producers who, always within the context of tradition, experiment with the production of new wines. The Liguria di Levante IGT is one of them.

Cheers!

The Cinque Terre wine heroic culture

The most important wines of La Spezia are those of the Cinque Terre denomination and the Sciacchetrà DOC. The main feature of these vines’ production area is man’s hard work to model an impervious and steep coast in confined spaces. The terraced vineyards and dry stone walls provide life to unique winemaking traditions in the world. In the last century’s final decades, the so-called “heroic viticulture,” which for over a thousand years ingrained the sense of sacrifice in the population of the Cinque Terre, had undergone a severe slowdown. The land was no more cultivated, and the vineyards were abandoned. Starting from the eighties and nineties, locals became more aware of the immeasurable value of that work, the extraordinary beauty of the landscapes, the unique flavor of its wine, and its excellent potential. Many producers have committed themselves to recover the land, the vines, and the vinification procedures. Until a few decades ago, Sciacchetrà was the best-known Cinque Terre wine in the area; today, the Cinque Terre DOC wine is the protagonist of local wine production, increasingly representative of Ligurian viticulture.  

A characteristic glimpse of the terraced vineyards for the production of Cinque Terre wine.
A characteristic glimpse of the terraced vineyards for the production of Cinque Terre wine.

Sciacchetrà, Sciacca and trà

The name of this sweet wine from the Cinque Terre derives from the Ligurian “sciacca”, i.e. “schiaccia”, and “tra”, i.e. “pull away”. Undoubtedly it is a very ancient name that describes what is done to obtain wine; the grapes are crushed, and the juice, the must, is extracted.

Sciacchetrà, despite the very minimal yield of the vineyards used for the production of this excellent passito wine, has never allowed its actual diffusion outside the territory. It is historically the best-known wine of the Cinque Terre. The vinification of Sciacchetrà is genuinely fascinating, The Sciacchetrà wine grapes are harvested by hand at the end of September, then left to dry on racks away from the sun. The fermentation procedure takes place in small chestnut barrels. Maturation takes three years until it reaches the characteristic amber color, the aromatic scent of dried fruit, such as almonds and dried apricots.

Cinque Terre vineyard and winery tour with tasting

Colli di Luni DOC

In the Val di Magra vineyards, where the course of the river makes the spaces much wider than in the nearby Cinque Terre, the production of over 65% of the La Spezia wine is concentrated, in particular with the Colli di Luni DOC, which is however shared by the Tuscan territory of Massa and Carrara. The name is inspired by its most ancient origins, namely the wine produced on the hills of the Roman port of Lunae.

Vermentino vine is the master here, characterized by low acidity, freshness, and flavor typical of the vines produced on the sandy soils of the eastern Ligurian area and the highest Tuscan coast. In this area, although to a lesser extent, red wines are made with a good and persistent taste.

Colline di Levanto DOC

The geographical area, cultivated with the terraces most exposed to the sun and the ventilation for the production of the Colline di Levanto DOC wine, extends over a hilly area between Levanto, Bonassola, Framura, and Deiva Marina, on the edge of the Cinque Terre coast. The site has been involved in the production of wine since ancient times, probably dating back to the Greek colonies in the area.

The DOC vinification of the Albarola and Vermentino vines is closely linked to tradition and characterized by fidelity to oenological practices, particularly maintaining the maximum yield of the grapes in 70% DOC wine.

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